Monthly Archives: January 2017

Solidarity and the travel ban

The troll in the white house has summarily halted the granting of visas to visitors and immigrants from a selection of primarily Muslim countries for a period of 120 days, an illegal prohibition under the Immigration and Naturalization Act of 1965.  The Act was passed explicitly to prevent the Federal government from instituting immigration policy on the basis of nationality and other broad classifications, in response to the widely-acknowledged abuse of such restrictions over the course of the 20th century.

In the same document, he’s:

  • required all visitors to have a verbal interview to be granted a visa.  This’ll back things up, for sure; wonder how the airlines, cruise lines etc will feel about the sudden drop in traffic from casual visitors to the US?
  • required the government to reciprocate against countries that impose restrictions on American travel;
  • required design and implementation of more draconian measures to police immigration (databases, …);
  • left open the possibility of adding to the list of countries included in the prohibition, specifically requesting that the DHS propose a list of such countries;
  • gratuitously required preferential treatment of refugees with “minority-status” religious affiliations, in violation of long-standing principles requiring the separation of church and state.

This was signed and went into effect on Holocaust Remembrance Day:

“First they came for the Somalis and the Iranians, and I did nothing.  Then …”  We have laws against profiling for a reason, because they violate the presumption of innocence and, like gill-netting, sweep up and penalize large groups of people to catch the few bad actors.  If we categorize all Somalis as potential terrorists, should we not categorize other classes the same way?  What about Arabs and Africans of European citizenship?  What about Europeans in general?  Most violent acts are committed by men.  Should we therefore only allow entry to the US by women?  It would certainly lower the probability of a violent act.

Wouldn’t it be wonderful if, in response, we (men and women of conscience, world-wide) all boycotted international travel to (or returning to) the US for 120 days?  All business travel, all vacation travel, cancelled in solidarity with those who are now unfairly denied entry to the US?  I wonder if the prospect of the heads of multinationals screaming at him as business grinds to a halt would cause him to reconsider, or would he just double down on the fight as he has so successfully with other issues in the past six months?

What’s going on in Congress right now?

We’re all happily pointing and laughing at the President’s absurdities over the past week: crowd sizes, press secretary harrumphing, twitter ejaculations.  We’re patting each other on the back for the feel-good march we participated in over the weekend.

The real work’s being done in the Congress. What have they been up to this last week? What bills have come out of committee ready for vote without a reading? What policy has been made, but not announced?

This is misdirection, not entertainment. We’re not winning here, people. Let’s pay attention.

Page One: Inside the New York Times

You ever see that great movie with Al Pacino, where he plays a low-end lawyer who takes on the big corporation?  I remember walking out of that movie as a teenager feeling really pumped up about serious, moral people doing good in the face of maybe irresistible pressure.

That’s what I felt like after watching this.  Fantastic documentary.  What makes the Times go, as an organization.  Admittedly, lots of footage of David Carr, who turns out to be hugely photogenic and quotable on camera, so that doesn’t hurt.

With all this miasma floating around about the death of fact, “fake news” (propaganda, why doesn’t anyone use the term of art?), limiting press access to the government, new media … the clear theme of the movie is: real journalism matters.

Watch Page One: Inside the New York Times Online at Hulu.

The press is whining

The traditional media are in a bit of shock over the disintegration of what has been a long and happy relationship with the American executive branch.  Time to man up and re-evaluate their role, as the fourth estate independent of and sceptical of the government, especially this government.  We need them to rediscover their true purpose.